Wholesale or retail?
September 30, 2005 § Leave a comment
Chennai, India – September 21, 2005
India has made tremendous progress in the development of services that will help generate revenue at the local telecentre level. Leading the pack in this arena are the social entrepreneurs at Drishtee, nLogue and TARAHaat. They have developed services to bring everything from government permits to remote health care to e-commerce into Indian villages via information kiosks.
Many of the services being tried out provide promise, both as tools for rural development and as ways to generate revenue for kiosk operators. Yet, the potential of these services is in part limited by the fact that they are only available through one ‘brand’ of kiosk – nLogue services at nLogue kiosks, Drishtee services at Drishtee kiosks, TARAHaat services at TARAHaat kiosks. This kind of vertical integration makes service delivery and improvement reasonably easy, but it also limits market size and potential ROI for new services.
With a mind to expanding both the market for their services and the offerings in their kiosks, these three kiosk networks joined Microsoft and telecentre.org for a meeting at IIT in Chennai. The meeting explored the possibility of a ‘common services platform’ that would essentially allow these networks to wholesale their services to each others kiosks. Certainly, there were many questions: Are these services productizable? Can we come up with integrated services, not just bits a pieces? Are the kiosks similar enough to share services? Yet, across these questions, there was a cautious commitment to dig deeper into the idea of unbundling services so they can be shared.
If a common services platform can emerge amongst these partners, it will certainly provide valuable opportunity innovate in the area of kiosk sustainability. It may also help take the idea of telecentre networks to a level that goes beyond just learning and information sharing.